Book Review: An Introduction to Childhood Studies

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An Introduction to Childhood Studies
Edited by Mary Jane Kehily,
Open University Press
ISBN 0335212670, £16.99


There are plenty of similar titles to this one, but few that
provide such a stimulating compilation of essays on the various
themes and disciplines with which childhood studies overlap,
writes Simon Colbeck.

With a useful editor’s introduction to these themes, the book
is divided into three sections exploring historical, socio-cultural
and policy perspectives.

Especially challenging is a chapter on historical attitudes to
children’s sexuality and we are reminded throughout of the
ways in which childhood has always been socially constructed
according to the time and political and cultural contexts from
which discourses on childhood arise.

“What is at stake in our debates about childhood?”
rather than “what is childhood?” is the question that
informs much of this book. While primarily a student textbook it
should also provide refreshment for childcare professionals insofar
as it encourages the reader to step back from some of the moral
panics and political agendas that often affect the working

Multidisciplinary practice needs a multidisciplinary theoretical
and research base, for which a fine overview is provided in this

Simon Colbeck is a fostering social worker and lecturer in
childhood studies

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